This is the first introduction video for my Wee Potty classes in Non-Coercive Potty Training for ages 18 months and up. In it you'll learn the 5 things parents needs to know to be ready for potty training.
As a potty training consultant, I hear from parents every week whose toddlers and preschoolers are constipated, anxious about using the toilet, and having most of their bowel movements in their pants, sometimes pooping less than once per week! Most of these parents have sought help from their family doctor only to be told that constipation is normal for kids and nothing to worry about. How many of you have had a similar experience?
I would like to share something with you that you probably already know… childhood constipation does occur frequently, but it is not “normal”. It is a sign that something is not right, whether that is an undiagnosed health issue, a food intolerance, an emotional upset or something else. Your poop, to quote Dr. William Sears, is window to your health. Problems with poop, whether too hard and infrequent or too loose (diarrhea), therefore should never be dismissed as “normal”. Even in babies, digestive issues show up as "colic", upset tummies, gassiness, and frequent spit-up.
Often a multi-faceted approach must be taken to overcome chronic poop problems in children, including dietary changes, supplements, ergonomic considerations and improving a child’s relationship with their eliminations. This is because it is imperative that we consider the WHOLE child in order to solve this complex issue. The goal is not to “make them poop”, it is to create the conditions in which they can maintain their optimal health, by having healthy poops and feeling comfortable about eliminating in a place that is appropriate for their age and ability.
Today I want to share with you several non-invasive, gentle, modalities that affect systemic change in the WHOLE BODY, and have been proven to be extremely effective in managing digestive issues in children in both the short and long term. These include, acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy and chiropractic therapy.
Please note that the information provided here is not medical advice. This post is intended to inform and educate parents about approaches that can be used as part of an overall program to support their child’s healing. Consulting with your family doctor is always recommended when your child is experiencing a health issue.
I have been a fan of acupuncture and Chinese medicine for many years, having used it myself for women’s health and pregnancy support as well as immune system support and overall wellness. Acupuncture, described by local pediatric acupuncturist Catherine Woodlock, is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body that engage the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Like all the modalities I am going to talk about today, acupuncture doesn’t treat just one symptom; it affects change in the whole individual to promote healing.
Does that sound confusing, or too “woo woo” for you?
After years of experience as a patient, I can tell you that I don’t totally understand the mechanics of it myself, but I CAN tell you that it works. According to the acupuncturists that I interviewed, it works even more efficiently in children than it does in adults!
Acupuncture is very effective for bowel issues, both constipation and diarrhea, according to Cathrine Woodlock and Kelsey Shaw, registered acupuncturists at Whole Family Health. “Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. This helps to calm the nervous system and improve digestion. It can also help to increase peristalsis (the contraction and stimulation of muscles) in the intestines, which can relieve constipation”. Anecdotally I have been told that many kids will take a big nap and a have a large bowel movement following treatment.
Eldyka Simpson, registered acupuncturist at Ripple Effect Wellness Centre, highlights how acupuncture relaxes the body and mind, which in turn relaxes the bowels. One of her patients, a girl of around 10 years old was suffering from stomach aches and what appeared to be IBS-like symptoms. The girl was visibly anxious, her body quite rigid and hands clenched at the start of their meeting. Within minutes of starting treatment the girl became visibly relaxed on the treatment table, a common response to the immediate effects of acupuncture. After a few treatments she was no longer in pain, and her symptoms began to improve.
Acupuncture can be a wonderful tool in any parents repertoire, and aside from digestive issues, it is very effective in treating many common parental concerns including bedwetting, colic, sleep issues, behavioural issues, eczema, and allergies as well as silent reflux and excessive spitting up in babies.
Hold the phone… babies?
How old do kids need to be to be treated with acupuncture? Eldyka Simpson is a certified doula as well as an acupuncturist and has treated babies as little as 2-3 hours old in the delivery room! Though at that age treatments are extremely gentle and she relies on more acupressure and cranio-sacral therapy (which will be discussed below). All of the acupuncturists I consulted with agreed that there is no minimal age to start.
A common issue that I see are young children withholding their bowel movements intentionally, often because of a previous painful potty experience. This creates a vicious cycle where the more they withhold, the more backed-up they get and the more painful and large their poops become! One of the acupuncturists at Whole Family Health recently worked with a family whose 2 year old daughter was doing just that, and it was causing a lot of distress in both the parents and child. Together with the acupuncturist, they developed a treatment plan that included dietary changes as well as acupuncture. After the first treatment, the parents reported that there was already a significant improvement in her bowel movements. After 3 weeks of acupuncture treatment twice per week, her bowel movements had returned to a regular, healthy state.
According to all of the acupuncturists that I interviewed, some improvement can usually be seen after only 1 treatment, and because children respond so well to acupuncture, significant change often occurs after only 3 or 4 sessions.
Understandably, many parents are apprehensive about the thought of taking their kids in to be poked by needles, especially when their own experiences with needles, such as receiving injections or having blood drawn, have been uncomfortable or downright painful! However, acupuncture is performed with needles that are super-tiny, only about 1/6 of the size of a hypodermic needle and the pediatric needles are even smaller!
Whereas in adults acupuncture needles are usually left in place for a long time, in children they are inserted very briefly and then removed. Oftentimes children do not even notice. However, most acupuncturists use a variety of modalities and tools available at their disposal to stimulate the acupuncture points, so if needles are a deal-breaker for you, call around and find out what else they have to offer! Acupuncturists who specialize in pediatric acupuncture will be flexible and work with you to find treatment options that are the best fit for your child and family. The photo below, for example, shows an acupuncturist using tuning forks to stimulate acupressure points.
Cranio-Sacral Therapy (CST) is another modality that can be very successfully used to treat constipation. It is a hands-on therapy that uses really light pressure touch to look for restrictions within the body and release those tensions to create balance. Because it is so very subtle and gentle, it works very well for young babies, especially helping them recover from any birth trauma, car seat discomfort, gassiness and excessive spitting up.
I spoke with mom Ashley Da Silva about her experiences using Acupuncture and CST for her now 20 month old son, who shared that she started taking him for acupuncture and CST when he was 4 months old. At that time he was exclusively breastfed but suffering from constipation as he would only have a bowel movement about every 2 days. “I would take him for these treatments (his acupuncturist does both) and typically within an hour after the treatment he would have a bowel movement.”
Unfortunately her son's constipation increased when they started supplementing his diet with formula, but these issues were helped immensely through continuing his visits for acupuncture and CST as well as adding probiotics to his diet. “After his first treatment, we noticed a difference in his mood. He was starting to get more on the cranky side. We did realize afterwards that it was also his lack of long naps that was leading to the crankiness. The acupuncture did help with his sleep, constipation and gas.” Ashley finds that continuing with treatments on a monthly basis has also helped them manage a variety of common childhood ailments from teething to digestion as well as eczema.
My personal interest in Chiropractic therapy began early in pregnancy with my son. Until then, like many of you probably, I thought of Chiropractors as back-crackers. It was my (very limited) understanding that you went to a chiropractor to put your bones back in place after a car accident or sports injury or something. I clearly had no idea, really. But… as it turns out my sister had taken her kids to a pediatric chiropractor for a few non-bone-related issues, and a friend of mine was going as part of her fertility journey. So I gave it a shot as I was having terrible back pain.
It was then that the chiropractic doctor opened my mind to how manipulation of the spine impacts the health of the whole nervous system, promoting overall health. Like acupuncture and CST, chiropractic is not a treatment for digestive issues specifically, however when your nervous system, which controls vital components of your digestive system, is functioning well optimal health is achieved.
As with acupuncture, parents are often apprehensive about having their kids adjusted. They may have had a poor experience themselves in the past, or hold on to a belief that adjustments are rough and painful. This view couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, chiropractic adjustments for kids are nothing like the adult ones (which aren’t painful either in my experience). The doctors make kids feel very safe and secure, use very light touch and are very mindful of how your little one is feeling. I have been taking my son for regular adjustments since he was only a couple of weeks old, and the adjustments are very relaxing for him. At age 2 he LOVES to visit the chiropractor, and completely melts on the table while being adjusted.
According to the chiropractic doctor that I interviewed, digestive concerns including colic, gas, spit-up and constipation are some of the most common reasons that families bring their kids to be adjusted. Life inside the womb as well as the birthing process can actually cause trauma to the spine of babies, so having them adjusted as soon as possible helps ensure that their nervous system is communicating and functioning as it should. He reports that parents usually notice significant changes with their child’s digestive issues within 2-4 weeks of starting chiropractic care.
A mom of twins, Elda Havlin, shared her chiropractic journey with me, “My twins were born at 36 weeks, 2 days - my girl was 4 lbs even and my boy 5lbs 10 oz at birth, but we were lucky and had almost no NICU time. When they were around 8 weeks old (4 weeks adjusted), I felt like something was wrong - my girl especially seemed super uncomfortable all the time - we tried burping, Ovol, gripe water, foot massage, tummy massage, etc. but nothing seemed to relieve her (what I assumed was) gassiness. My boy was in a similar state but not as extreme.” A friend suggested she try taking her babies to a chiropractor, and though she was hesitant, she needed to find a way to ease her babies discomfort!
At the appointment, the doctor had Elda lie on her back, on the chiropractic table, with her still tiny baby on her chest, face down. The doctor talked her through everything she was doing, while slowly and very gently feeling along her daughter’s spine and making small adjustments as she went. Elda says she didn’t hear or even feel the adjustments being made to her baby, but as the doctor worked the baby started passing gas. Like A LOT. “I honestly had never heard her toot as loud or as long! It was like she’s had this gas stored up inside her for her whole life!” Within a few minutes after the adjustment, her baby girl had a huge loud poop which her mom called a “mega blowout”! Unfortunate to clean-up (we’ve all been there!!), but what an amazing experience! Elda reports that her son’s adjustment had a similar outcome but not quite as extreme as her daughter’s.
Elda was even more amazed when they returned home, “she was honestly like a whole new baby! She was clearly happier, more comfortable, and enjoying life again!” She continued to take her babies for adjustments, first twice then once per week for a couple of months. Her twins are now busy toddlers and she reports that they are rocking potty training!
Thankfully both of the mom’s I spoke to were able to find help using alternative medicine when their babies were very young. Unfortunately many parents don’t find these alternatives and their kids digestive issues are not taken seriously by their doctors. This leaves parents with irritable, uncomfortable babies, and constipated toddlers, wreaking havoc on potty training and causing distress for the whole family.
In terms of constipation and other digestive problems, these modalities are extremely effective but they are often not the only solution that parents need to consider. You can be assured that after a few treatments your child’s body is now communicating optimally but if they are still experiencing symptoms, there might be an issue that acupuncture, CST or chiropractic can’t address. These would include things like poor diet, food allergies, life stress and other underlying health issues. When we are considering a holistic approach to healing, we must remember to consider the WHOLE child, a multi-faceted approach will lead to the best outcomes.
For parents whose kids have already been through the gamut of western medicine, alternative approaches are safe and work very well in conjunction with the approaches that your doctor might recommend, including pharmaceutical stool softeners and laxatives. Many families see improvement while using pharmaceuticals, but their child’s troubles return as soon as they wean off the drugs. All of the modalities I have written about in this post have been very effective as well for helping kids reduce their dependency and eventually stop using pharmaceutical products while maintaining healthy, regular bowel movements.
Have you tried acupuncture, CST or chiropractic to overcome your child's digestive issues? If so, please share your experience with us in the comments.
For information on overcoming potty refusal and poop withholding, check out my previous post, Top 3 Tips for Getting Poops in the Potty. And, definitely download my free recipe book with tasty recipes that will help your child have healthier bowel movements.
Today's post is going to be a little bit different than usual, as I want to delve into a topic that effects all of us WAY before potty training, WAY before we birth our babies and for some of us, WAY before the moment of conception even. In this post I am going to share my personal journey of infertility with you, and how we were able to conceive and birth two beautiful babies totally naturally. At the end, I will be posting a link to Gabriela Rosa's new book, Fertility Breakthrough: Overcoming infertility and recurrent miscarriage when other treatments have failed, which she has generously offered FREE to my readers and social media followers .
They say that 1 in 8 women experience infertility. It sure didn't feel that way to me. I was 27 years old when we started trying for a baby and I looked around at my friends, neighbours, and large extended family and it appeared to me that I was the only one whose family wasn't growing when I hoped and planned it to. Perhaps it wasn't true, but when no one is talking about their difficulties, it sure feels that way.
We had been trying for about a year when we had our first appointment at the fertility clinic in 2010. I had been tracking my menstrual cycle and arrived at the appointment with a few months of charts, hopeful that they could see what was wrong with me by looking at my basal body temperature readings. My husband's sperm was fine, they said. The Hysterosalpingogram showed that my fallopian tubes were clear. As for my charts? "We don't look at those" they said.
I was told that they could start me on Clomid right away, and if that didn't work in a couple of months, I could start injectable drugs and they could book me in for IVF. I told them that I wasn't ready for all that, I was looking for answers. I told the doctor that we were going for acupuncture weekly, and had been taking Chinese herbal medicine. He said the acupuncture might help but that the Chinese herbs would do nothing. He wished me luck and told me to come back in 6 months if we weren't pregnant by then.
How disappointing. How discouraging! Was there really nothing I could do? I was a healthy 28 year old. I ate well, did light exercise (walking, biking, yoga), I had stopped drinking alcohol. I had been taking prenatal vitamins for over a year, and the tests available to us showed us that nothing was wrong! I started seeing a naturopath and taking more supplements. I found a doctor who was willing to order more bloodwork to check my hormone levels, I cut my work hours in half. I started doing more yoga and learning to meditate. By some miracle, after 2 years of trying, we finally became pregnant. My pregnancy was absolute perfection, I had never felt so healthy, fit and beautiful. My daughter was born into water the day after her due date in 2012.
I felt at that time like I had finally cracked the code. I knew just what to do to achieve pregnancy and now my body was on my side. I thought it would be easier next time.
When she was 18 months old, my period finally returned and we started trying for another baby right away. By this I mean I also started yoga again, found a new naturopath, went back to acupuncture, started fertility massage and started tracking my cycle, on top of timing intercourse to the fertile part of my cycle each month. 6 months passed, then a year. Infertility was consuming my life. Every time I tried to talk about it, or even think about it, I would start to cry. I read books and blogs.
We went back to the fertility clinic, hoping for a better experience. His sperm was still fine, my tubes were still open, our trouble making a baby was still "unexplained". This time, I consented to starting Clomid and made an appointment for an IUI (intrauterine insemination). I was sure that this would work.
The Clomid made my cycle super short. I had to wait for the next one to do the IUI. After the next month of Clomid I went for the insemination. The doctor doing the procedure was not my usual doctor, but he seemed alright. First he did an ultrasound on my abdomen, and at that time discovered that I had a bunch of cycts on my ovaries. He pretty much freaked out (and completely freaked me out), going on and on about all the different kinds of huge cycts I had and cancelled my IUI right there, while I was laying on the table. I was devastated. I had previously booked an acupuncture appointment for after the procedure (to have the best chance of implantation), so I went to my appointment and sobbed into my acupuncturist's embrace.
Long story short, the only other option they gave me was to start ovulation stimulation via injectable drugs. Drugs that have potential side effects of blindness, or death. Another side effect is the chance of multiples... twins OR MORE. I already had 1 child and was no longer naive to the work, sleeplessness and selflessness that parenthood required. I didn't want more than one more baby and I didn't want to die in the process. Hopelessness set in.
It had been 3 years since we started trying for a second baby. I was certain I had tried everything but those dangerous drugs and pretty much lost hope. Then I learned about and readily signed up for a 4-week fertility yoga workshop being offered in my city the next month, November. At the class I met 5 other women going through infertility. We talked and cried. I hadn't realized how much I needed to talk about it, and to feel supported by other women who were going through it too. At that class I met a new friend, and a month later, she introduced me to Gabriela Rosa's Fertility Breakthrough program.
My first intro was a podcast where Gabriela Rosa talked about "minor factors" that can lead to infertility. Things like weight, age, diet, and stress. In a nutshell, each of these minor factors that you and your partner might have add up to a more and more difficult time conceiving a baby. It was a lightbulb moment. Perhaps she held the key to getting to the bottom of all this. Thankfully, the next "Gabriela Rosa Fertility Challenge" was only a few weeks away.
After over 3 years of secondary infertility, you guys.... I kid you not, we were pregnant 3 months after starting the challenge. Gabriela's program is difficult, for most of us it requires huge shifts in our lifestyle, diet, and thinking. Even though I thought, going into the challenge, that I was already doing everything possible to become pregnant, I learned SO MUCH from her and her team. But the best part? The absolute BEST part was that my husband and I worked on this diligently TOGETHER. This healthy baby we wanted to make was bigger than our cravings, addictions, bad habits and bad patterns. Over the preceding 3 years, I was the one making the changes, doing the research and starting to resent him because I felt like he didn't care as much as I did. And that his habits were standing the way of conceiving our baby. Standing together in this let all that resentment melt away, and our love to grow, every day that we stuck to our plan, together.
The rest is history, I suppose. Our Natural Fertility Breakthrough baby is little Alek, our blond curly haired now-2-year old who, those of you who are familiar with my blog and social media will know well. He was born in December 2017.
So... that is our story of challenge and eventual triumph. Certainly not everyone will become pregnant as quickly as we did after starting the challenge, but one look at Gabriella's track record and you will see that most of the clients working with her do, eventually, Her new book, Fertility Breakthrough: Overcoming infertility and recurrent miscarriage when other treatments have failed, is going to change lives. And get this... Gabriela Rosa has offered to give my readers a FREE paperback copy, mailed right to your door. All you have to do is click on the link to her book here, fill in your details, enter in my unique coupon code at checkout: nfbdanielle and hit "Apply Coupon". Even your shipping is included!
This is a fertility revolution ladies. No more will we let ourselves be poked and prodded with no hope, no answers. No more will we be pressured to use drugs unnecessarily, or be ridiculed for taking our time and trying "alternative" answers. No more will we spend every last dime we have on procedures that have an incredibly low success rate. Nor will we allow ourselves to believe that lifestyle changes won't make a difference to our outcomes.
Click the link between today and February 7, 2020 to claim your copy. If you are not in need of fertility help, please forward a link to this blog post to any friends or family who you know may benefit from it. If you are reading this post after the 7 day window has closed, I urge you to consider supporting Natural Fertility Breakthrough and purchasing a copy for yourself through their website. And, take part in the next fertility challenge, of course!
Here are a couple of handy Pinterest images too!
*** Updated Dec. 2021 **
In my experience, there are A LOT of parents planning to teach their toddler how to use the potty during the Christmas break, and be done with diapers forever! How sweet will that be? Seriously... no more soggy pants, poopy bums the clean at the most inopportune times, kids trying to run away when you go near them with a fresh diaper... sounds like heaven doesn't it?
I FULLY support your efforts to accomplish this right now, ASAP. But I want to write this post because there are some unique challenges that you will be facing at this time of year, and I want you to be prepared and plan ahead so that you can achieve this noble goal. If you have finished potty training your child in the last few months, this post will be a good reminder to you too, so you can help your child stay clean and dry amidst the chaos that is this season. If you haven't started potty training yet, click here to check-out my potty training course, "Cooperative Potty Training" to get started on the right foot!
Remember, the name of the game is potty training in to be firm in your approach, but also to remain relaxed and calm in your demeanour. If you get anxious and stressed, your child will as well and that spells disaster in potty training. So pour yourself some herbal tea or baileys on ice (or whatever puts you in a good potty training mood) and let's get started.
First off, I'm hoping that you have a plan in place for how to get this done. I definitely have my favourite approaches but at the end of the day its up to you. I would like to caution you however about cobbling something together from random internet sources or recollections from friends and family. A LOT of people go into potty training without a solid, tried and true approach and when something unexpected happens, panic sets in and mom or dad start grasping for straws trying to get things back on track. They may try candy or start a sticker chart. They may start taking their poor child to the potty every 20 minutes or letting them sit naked on it for hours a day watching TV. Perhaps even threatening their child that Santa won't bring them any presents if.... or they won't be able to go to a family celebration if.... Does that sound anxiety inducing to you? Does this sound like a plan that your toddler is going to be successful with?
Unfortunately this scenario happens often, and usually results in a cry of "he just wasn't ready" or "we tried too early". I want you to remember this.... the most important thing to do when starting potty training is for YOU, the parent, to be ready. This is your show. Your child is capable of mastering this skill if you are ready and committed to the process. Yes, there are instances where some kids don't complete potty training the first time they try, even though the parents were prepared, it happens. But your chances of success will increase 10-fold if you go into this with your eyes wide open, and have a plan in place for if (when) things aren't progressing quite the way you thought they would.
Second, choosing the right time is the other most important consideration when you are ready to commit to potty training. That means a MINIMUM of 3 days without any other commitments. Having said that, the average time to be regularly and reliably daytime potty trained is 7-10 days. My best advice for parents is to give it as much time as you possibly can. Once again, the aim is to reduce any anxiety or stress around potty training, so removing short and hard deadlines is essential. Imagine that you only have 3 days to complete potty training, a long weekend. By Monday afternoon if your child is still on Step 1 (eg. peeing all over the house with little to no recognition), you are going to be STRESSED. But.... if you can take an extra day or two off, it will give you the peace of mind to keep going. By day 5 it is very likely that your little one will have turned a corner and will be in a much better position to return to childcare, or in this case, attend a holiday party.
So... let's say you are going to start potty training next Saturday morning, Dec. 21, Christmas Eve would be day 4 and Christmas Day would be day 5. Remember, the average time to daytime completion is 7-10 days. So... if you have plans on those days, it is imperative to (once again), have a plan that will increase the likelihood of your continued success. Usually, short outings of 15-30 mins. or so would be perfect for day 4 or 5 of potty training. I understand that you probably have plans longer than that! So, what can you do?
Prioritize your outings. I your aunt wants you to come over for brunch in the morning, and your friends want you to go sledding in the afternoon, and you're hosting your parents for dinner... that is TOO MUCH. You should try to stick to your normal routine and spend as much time at home as you can so that you can allow your child to continue to progress at the stage that he is at for most of the day, since moving too quickly through the steps leads to more accidents overall and more confusion for the child. For outings that you can't or don't want to miss, invest in cloth training pants that will minimize clean-up for pee accidents. If you will be going to church, or a family member's home that will not be too accommodating or understanding, consider investing in a pair or two of absorbent training pants with a waterproof cover, or an all-in-one style training pant that has a PUL shell just in case. These kinds of lined trainers are preferable to using pull-ups in this delicate first week of potty training because for a little kid, a pull-up is simply a diaper. It may go on differently than the diapers they were used to, but still... using a pull-up so soon after starting potty training is very likely to cause confusion.
Continue to pay attention. Outings can be a game-changer for potty training, in a good way. It helps you to tune-in to your child's timing and signals in a way that you probably aren't connecting to as much at home since there is little at stake. However, when parties come along, parents usually want to socialize with their friends and family, not hang out with the kids all evening waiting to catch a pee or poop in the potty! We potty trained my daughter mid-november (several years ago now), so by Christmas-time she was doing awesome, and just working on some increased independence and skill building. Yet, at every party we attended that year, she had a big accident in her pants. Why??? Because mom and dad were not paying attention! We were drinking wine and chatting with friends, while the kids were running around doing their kid things. New environments, new toys, new friends, sweets and treats, of course she didn't think to use the potty at a time like that!
Looking back, its obvious that she needed more of my help to stay dry. Though in the home environment I do not recommend regular potty breaks (preferring to rely mainly on your child's routines, signals and patterns), at parties this strategy can work really well. Set your watch or phone timer if you have to, and take your child to the toilet every 1 to 1.5 hours (depending on their usually pattern that you have observed at home). And remember, take him or her to the potty by offering the opportunity. Do not ask IF they need to go.
Resistance. If your child doesn't want to take a break from play-time to use the toilet, you may want to try to convince them by allowing them to take the toy they are playing with into the bathroom, or even inviting their cousin or friend to come-along too! Be mindful of your child's tired signals too. The more worn out he becomes, the less likely he will get to the potty on time. It may mean that you cut your visiting time short unfortunately, but you will be happy you did the next day, when your child is in good spirits to continue to solidify their learning.
Bring your supplies from home. No question, you will want to pack your diaper bag (minus the diapers of course!). Bring your own toilet seat reducer and/or a floor potty from home, as well as several pairs of training pants and a few changes of clothes including socks. A wet-bag might also be a nice addition for any wet or toilet clothing, as well as a pack of wipes or cloths.
Don't make accidents a big deal. Wet or soiled pants in the first few weeks of potty training aren't even accidents really, I call them learning opportunities, for both you and your child. If an accident happens at a social event, help your child to clean-up, and allow her to sit on the potty in case she held some of it back. No remarks, no shame, just be matter-of fact. And try to do better next time.
All the best to you this holiday season, in your potty training endeavours and more.
If you are located in Alberta Canada, be sure to join the Go Diaper Free of Edmonton facebook group where you can let us know how things are going, ask questions, vent, or celebrate your successes with other like-minded parents who are right there with you. Outside of that geographic area, please find a group located closer to you at Go Diaper Free. And be sure to follow Wee Potty on Instagram and Pinterest for more great potty training tips and content.
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In almost every class I teach, I have one parent who asks me whether they can just teach their child to use the big toilet, and not use a floor potty. The reason behind the question varies; some parents fear that their child will become dependent on the little potty and not want to use the toilet, others are reluctant to have to clean-up the little potty and would rather everything go straight into the toilet bowl, some are minimalists who just want to reduce the number of "things" and might not see the point of this particular potty training accessory.
First I want to ask you...
IF having a little potty that sits on the floor, in the middle of your
living space (for a short time) were the determining factor in your
success or failure with potty training, would you get one?
The cost is minimal, $10 (second hand) to around $40. You can even just borrow one from a friend for free. I am not at all overreaching here... despite a little "extra" clean-up of the little potty after use, it will save you time, effort, and very likely money on diapers since potty training will go more smoothly be more likely to stick if you have a little potty. Let's break down the reasons why:
1) The little potty goes where you go. If you are starting potty training the way I teach it, you would start with a day of naked teaching. On this day, your child is naked from the waist down and you are waiting and watching for him or her to pee. Once they start to pee, you airlift your little one onto the nearest potty aiming to catch at least 1 drop of pee in the potty each time. This is the quickest way to teach your toddler how it feels to need to pee, what happens when you do, where pee goes, and how to get there. This method encourages independence too, as your child is learning from day 1 how to recognize when they need to pee, and not relying on a caregiver or a timer to tell them its time to go. So, using this approach, you need to have a potty close at hand at all times since you don't want to have to run down the hall or up the stairs to the bathroom with a peeing child in your arms! Playing in the living room? Bring the potty. Eating lunch in the kitchen? Bring the potty. Spending time in the back yard on a sunny day? Bring the potty.
2) Your child is easily able to mount the floor potty without assistance. Speaking of encouraging independence, a floor potty allows your child to get up onto it easily without assistance, unlike a toilet that requires a caregiver to lift the child up, a toilet seat reducer so that their little bum won't fall in, and/or a stool or steps that your child needs to climb up on. Any extra steps in the potty process (asking for help, putting the reducer on the toilet seat, or climbing precariously up onto the toilet for example) can make it less likely that a child will bother using the potty. Or, best case, they try to get there in time, but these extra barriers make it more likely that the pee accidentally lands in their pants or on the floor.
3) Let's talk about ergonomics... A floor potty is more comfortable for your child to sit on than the toilet. They are designed to fit a child's tiny bum and short stature. If you have heard of the Squatty Potty, a toilet stool designed to get you body into a better alignment for bowel movements, you may know that a deep squat position puts our colons into the best position to poop in, and that modern-day toilets actually make pooping more difficult.
When your toddler or preschooler is sitting on the big toilet, with their legs dangling, it makes elimination much more difficult on them. It might mean that they are straining more, or not fully emptying and these can create more accidents, and even reluctance to use the potty/or toilet for bowel movements. At the beginning of potty training you want everything to run as smoothly as possible (no pun intended), and the floor potty ensures a better, more ergonomic fit for your child, especially for pooping. You can also fit the potty to your child, so if you child is smaller, choose a potty that is smaller too! Colour, shape and fancy gizmo's are far less important than simply choosing the most comfortable option for your child. Once they are accustomed to pooping in the potty, by all means use the toilet too. But make sure to have, in addition to a comfortable toilet seat reducer, a nice high stool for your child to rest their feet on and to keep their knees elevated above hip level.
4) Pottying on-the-go, playgrounds, car trips and more... the title kind of says it all, sometimes you don't have a toilet to go on! So, rather than worry that your child will not want to use the toilet, I would worry that my child would never want to use the potty! Floor potties are designed to be portable, you don't have to get one that looks like a real toilet and is 3 feet high. There are plenty of small, portable potties that can be stashed under your stroller, strapped to the back of your bike or semi-permanently stored in the trunk of your car to make potty use convenient at any time and place.
5) Potties can serve multiple functions. This fact is alluded to above, but I'll take it a step further here. What if you could buy just 1 potty that would serve all the functions? It had to be the main floor potty at home, the toilet seat reducer, the travel potty and the car potty. Would you be surprised if I told you that such a thing exists! They are these incredible, sturdy travel potties that are multifunctional and in that way actually grow with your child. There are two different versions out there, the Potette Plus Travel Potty and the OXO Tot 2-in1 Go Potty. Some day I will dedicate a post just to comparing these two brands, but for now I will say that the main advantage of the Potette Plus is that it is possible to purchase a silicone liner for it so that you can use it as a floor potty indoors. The main disadvantage of the Potette is the "pee guard" is not very high. Both potties can be use with disposable liners or any container inserted underneath. The OXO seems to be a better fit on most toilets.
6) Keeping a floor potty in your child's room helps with night-time potty use too! Now, you're probably not quite ready to think about night-training, and that is perfectly fine. However, some day you will want your child to stop wetting their diapers at nighttime. At that time, you can take your floor potty out of storage, and make a little potty station in the bedroom. Place a folded towel or foam mat on the floor with the potty on it. If your child is still in a crib, it makes taking them to pee during the night a breeze! And, when your child graduates to a big-kid bed, it encourages them to get up in the night if they need to and use the potty without waking you up in the night. The Night Potty board book read each night before bed also helps to reinforce the notion of waking up to pee in the night.
7) Dumping the potty contents into the toilet is a perk! I don't recommend using bribes and rewards in potty training, things like candy, stickers and toys actually take away from the focus of potty learning (getting pees and poops in the potty, whooo hoo!!!) and can derail the process in many cases by creating a power struggle over the treats. However, there are plenty of internal motivators in potty training that act as natural rewards. Things like pride after getting to the potty in time, keeping undies and pants dry, getting to choose undies to wear, and flushing the toilet. Kids LOVE these things. They are rewards that keep on giving and never need to be taken away. Dumping pees and poops in the potty is another fun motivator for kids. The best potties for dumping are the ones with the bowl insert that can be removed, since pee is less splashy when coming out of the bowl compared to the rounded 1-piece potties. Also, if you have a child that is having accidents because he or she refuses to leave their play to use the potty, having a potty in the main space can be a good reminder and allows them to feel like they are part of the action rather than being sent to another room each time they need to eliminate. Being taken away from activities, even for a good reason, can feel like a punishment.
Still worried about cleaning your potty? It's so simple and takes only a minute or less. After your child eliminates into the potty, pick up the bowl insert (assuming you have a 2-piece potty) or the whole potty and dump the contents into the toilet. Rinse the potty with water and dump that into the toilet. Spray the potty with some non-toxic cleaner, wipe it dry with a cloth for this purpose, or toilet paper. Flush the paper along with the other contents of the toilet, and put the potty bowl back into the potty. Now its ready to go for next time! A 50%-50% vinegar to water solution will work for this purpose, I prefer to add some D-limonene cleaner to this solution for mega cleaning power and a nice orange scent.
So... I think I've covered it. 7 excellent reasons for you to make a very small investment in a small plastic potty that will encourage potty learning and independence, make clean-up easier, allow you flexibility to use the potty wherever you are and help your child to stay dry at night. Its win-win-win! For help learning how to potty train, check out my online course, Cooperative Potty Training.
The following visual list contains convenient links to some of my favourite potties. Just click to be directed straight to all the product details on amazon.ca. Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite that I have not included and why you love it!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links below and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for your support.
Thinking about potty-training? Curious about EC? Not sure how to start or whether your child is ready, or whether you have the time? Ahhhhhh!!!! So much to consider. Right? Well, worry no more, Wee Potty is here for you. And today I would like to share some of the best books that can help you on your journey. Some educational, some instructive, plus some of the best board books to get your child in the mood for “potty time”.
Elimination Communication Books
Potty Training Books
Do you have any favourite potty training books at home? Let me know in the comments.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links below and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for your support.
I get asked "What's the deal with training pants?" at every class I teach. Today I'm going to tell you exactly what the deal is, and why you might want to get a few pairs (yep... its time to learn from one of my personal potty training faux pas!). One thing I want to make clear is that Pull-Ups are NOT training pants. They are advertised as such, but they are really just diapers that go on like underwear. They are not recommended for potty training, unless perhaps you are still using diapers at night, then by all means...
So, what exactly ARE training pants. When my daughter was potty training, I could not figure their purpose out for the life of me. I had read that going commando (a.k.a. pants with no underwear or training pants) was the clearest and best signal to a child that they are not wearing diapers, helping them to stay dry and let you know when they need to go! So that's what I did, and it worked extremely well for us until one day...
We were on Step 3 (Phase 1) of potty training "The Tiny Potty Training Book" way, so it was time to venture out into public for some longer diaper-free outings. I decided that it would be fun to go to one of the library's daytime kids programs that day, and I had it all figured-out... My daughter could pee right before we left the house, we would take a short drive to the library, the program is about 25 mins long, another pee right afterwards and then we drive back home. A foolproof plan, I thought! To make a long story short, she would not pee before leaving the house, nor upon arrival at the library. So we went to the program regardless, and let me remind you... she is not wearing any training pants. Just a pair of jeans. JEANS!! (Somebody should have told me to use absorbent outer pants, at least). She was having a blast at the program, the most fun she had ever had at one... and I didn't want to break it up for a potty-break. I was sweating, I was watching the clock... every time she came near me I would ask "do you need to use the potty?" A MAJOR mistake I now know, because of course she just looked at me like I had 2 heads and kept playing.
Finally the program was over. We had made it! Until I started putting her boots back on and "WHOOSH" the worlds biggest pee came flooding out of her pant legs, into her boots and all over the floor. The *ahem* carpeted library floor. I did my best to clean it up with the cloth pre-folds I was still carrying me, and had to call over the library staff to let them know, and all the other parents were still their getting their kids into their winter gear. Embarrassing!!! Obviously there were a lot of things I could have done differently, but barring the alternatives, if she had at least been wearing training pants I could have avoided a big puddle on the floor!
There are two main types of cloth training pants available:
The thinner, padded underwear type. These are great for everyday wear if your child is doing well in trainers/undies (as opposed to going commando). An accident in this type will result in wet pants for sure, but they will absorb a lot of the wetness, reducing the chance of a puddle. And the pants being wet is a good thing! Your child will receive appropriate feedback and discomfort, and you will be able to tell immediately if your child has wet his or her trainers.
The thicker waterproof type. This type of training pant has more absorbency and has a PUL layer sewn in. They are designed to hold one (small) pee. The advantage of this type is, of course, less mess! But it is likely that pants get a bit wet. You would probably not want to use this type on a daily basis if possible, as they are more diaper-like. These are best used for specific situations where you would not want a big mess, like church or a long car ride, or situations where you will not be paying a lot of attention to your child, like a big family party. This type is typically made by cloth diaper companies and can be found at online retailers or any local stores that carry cloth diapers.
You should start using training pants once your child has already been working on potty training for a few days or you can continue having your child commando in pants for a couple of weeks if that is working well for you. Following the Tiny Potty Training Book approach, you would start trying underwear or training pants at home in Step 3 (approx. day 3-10 of potty training, depending). Using underwear-like products too early in the potty training process can cause confusion as your child may mistake the sensation of training pants/underwear for a diaper and accidentally begin having more regular accidents at first.
How long you should continue using training pants is up to you, but in general, if your child begins to depend on them to soak up a bit of pee, you will want to discontinue using them right away. The other consideration is the age of your child. Often when doing Elimination Communication, parents choose to use training pants rather than diapers some-or-all of the time with their baby. In this case, you might use training pants for a year or more. However, if starting potty training after about 18 months, you will likely want to use them anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, except possibly in unique situations where you really need that added protection. Otherwise, thin cotton underwear will be your best choice for avoiding regular accidents.
Do you have a favourite cloth training pant you want to share? Let me know in the comments!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links below and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for your support.
Ah... mid-summer. For many families, this time of year provides the perfect opportunity to help their child break-free of the diaper habit for good. However, when potty-training isn't going very well, this time of year can become a count-down to fall and all of the changes that season brings. For some, potty-training is essential for starting pre-school, or parents might be going back to work and will no longer have as much time to commit to EC or potty training. For families dealing with poop challenges - from fear and anxiety of using a toilet to poop, to daily or weekly accidents, to chronic withholding that can lead to serious health issues - the stakes at this time of year can be very high indeed.
The road to going from poop-in-the-potty resistance to confidence is often not easy, and typically requires a week or two of vigilance on the part of parents or daytime caregivers. There may be tears, desperate attempts to get away, even violent outbursts on the part of the child, but it is essential for parents to approach this behaviour with complete empathy and understanding.
Tip 1: Get Closer
Work on re-building your relationship with your child. When potty training doesn’t come easily, there is always frustration, its natural! But when this frustration goes on for weeks and months it can definitely cause a rift to develop between parent (or caregiver) and child. So first its essential to reduce the drama and frustration surrounding the issue before beginning the process again. If you have been using rewards, stop immediately and instead find ways to connect with your child whether it’s a game of tag around the house, or a trip to the ice cream shop or swimming pool. These types of activities may have been used as bribes or rewards for potty training in the past so this time make sure there are no strings attached.
Physical, rough play and laughter can be a great way for parents and kids to connect, but can also help to dispel fear and release tension. Any type of wrestling, pillow fights etc… can give your child the positive parental time and attention that they crave while also acting as a safe way to release their worries. Additionally, during playtime the parent should allow the child to exert some control over the parent, so that the child does not feel dominated. Games where the child is stronger, faster and/or smarter will have them laughing their worries away.
Books can also help to increase understanding, add an element of humour and normalize pooping on the potty. Look for books that are appropriate to the age and attention-span of your child. Some of the books we love include What is Poo?, Everyone Poops, and Toot.
Tip 2: Think About Food
Consider your child’s diet and how this could be contributing to potty training issues. If your child is sometimes constipated, fiber is often the first thing parents attempt to increase in their child’s diet. And while fiber is important, too much can actually contribute to the production of too much stool, which is not very helpful in this situation.
It is however, very important to ensure that your child is adequately hydrated, as well as ensuring that they have a good amount of healthy fats in their diet. Healthy fats include avocado (think of it fresh on toast or guacamole), coconut (shredded, or coconut milk in a smoothie, overnight oats or soup) and oils like coconut, avocado, olive and butter. Try the recipes in my free download, Toddler Approved Recipes for Constipation Relief.
There are certain foods that you may also want to avoid if constipation is a recurrent issue including green (unripe) bananas and dairy products.
Tip 3: Go Cold Turkey
At a certain point diapers (or pull-ups, which are still diapers!) act like a security blanket, especially for kids who are over 30 months of age. Pooping outside of a diaper feels WAYYYYYY different that pooping in one, and since its probably the only place that your child has pooped in the last few years, its important to understand what a huge change this is for them. Though as parents, at a certain point we might decide that our child pooping in a diaper is no longer acceptable; the poops are larger, maybe smellier, we think our kids must be developing the same aversion to it as we are. But guess what? Most kids don’t care at all. The diaper is the only toilet they have ever known and a very convenient one at that! They are used to the feeling and the smell, and overall the part they start hating the most is probably getting changed and cleaned-up! Very inconvenient for parents who start to resent these clean-up battles.
If your child seems afraid, or just unwilling to sit on the potty to poop, it is so, so tempting to hand them a pull-up and let them go in the place where they feel most comfortable. But unfortunately, the diaper habit is a hard one to break, and handing them a diaper each time is not going to resolve this issue. It can in fact make them even more resistant in the future when they are older and even more set in their ways.
On the other-hand, taking away the diapers completely can lead to a child just pooping in their undies or even withholding poop until they are given a diaper to poop in at nap or night-time. So what is a parent to do?
2 things actually… first, you have to say no to diapers, all day and all night. Second, you need to make catching poops your main life-goal for a few days. Watch for signals, the typical times of day that your child poops or places they tend to retreat to. When you see the signal, take your child into the bathroom and wait it out, giving them all of the empathy and love you can muster, but see it through. For most kids, once you get 3-5 poops in the potty, a new habit is being formed, and their fear of pooping has subsided.
For many parents, following these 3 tips will be enough to solve the poop problem. If you require a more personalized approach, or you feel that your child may not follow typical withholding behaviour, please contact me for a consultation. Sometimes poop withholding and accidents are a sign of a medical condition that needs to be monitored by your family doctor, and cannot be corrected by simple food changes and non-coercive techniques. Watch for a future blog post that will outline the signs to be on the lookout for.
Let me know... did your child struggle with getting poops in the potty? Which tips or techniques helped them to get over their hesitation and regularly use the toilet or potty for poop?
I am thrilled, overjoyed, humbled and amazed... my little dude has been out of diapers for a couple of months now and for this last month - he's 100% done! I would say he's potty-trained, except that we didn't actually have to "potty train" in the common sense. Instead, we worked on it consistently for almost a year and a half and I can comfortably say that we're done! It is crazy how easy it was to "complete EC" once we stopped using diapers altogether. Alek just took the challenge on, I can't even take (much) credit for it.
At the end of May we were having a ton of success while out and about; to this day I don't think we have had even 1 accident in his underwear while out of the house, though a combination of mama-prompting and Alek being really accommodating by pushing out a little pee each time I offered the potty - whether or not he really needed to. At home was a bit of a different story. Some days were dry and other days we had several misses but Alek finally started saying "poop" or "pee" SOMETIMES before going and ALWAYS saying it afterwards (but by then it was too late of course :). I noticed around this time that Alek started holding his pee for longer periods, he also started to occasionally have a little pee spot in his training pants (a pre-pee its called), but would alert me that he needed to go as soon as he felt that tiny bit of wetness.
If you have been following our journey for a couple of months, you will know that I have cleaned out A LOT of poopy training pants... the worst! Even the days when we had no misses for pee, we would always have a couple of poops in his underwear. But by the end of May, more and more poops were getting in the potty instead! He also started to really consolidate his poops so that he was only going once per day instead of 3+ times. One day, about a month ago, Alek was bare-bummed (no idea why, he's nearly always wearing underwear), but anyway I was busy doing something and when I walked past his potty in the living room, it was full of poop! He didn't even tell me. MAJOR proud-mama moment!
As for nighttime, again, its too good to be true! Alek has been dry at night for well over a month now. Even more incredibly, about 5 separate nights he called for me around 11pm so that I could take him to the toilet to pee! The first time it happened it was pretty funny. he was wearing a fitted diaper with no waterproof cover and he woke up, calling my name. I picked him up and began singing to him, pacing the room. He fell back asleep, so I laid him in the crib. He woke again a few minutes later, so I tried the same thing. A third time he woke, I sat down to rock him and he peed on me, straight through the diaper! But, since I felt it right away, I got his diaper off immediately, put a new one on, put on a sleep sac and started rocking him again... only to get peed on again! LOL. I knew I should have put him onto the potty after the first time!
There are still a couple of accidents here and there, usually before bedtime when he is getting really tired, but 99% of the time he's dry and telling me when he needs to go.
Based on my previous potty-training journey with my daughter several years ago, I know that there are some challenges that come with completing it "early". Molars, sleep disturbances, nap dropping, growth spurts, and drinking tons of water from your new play teapot can all cause accidents here and there. So although I think I will end the monthly updates in this series here, I may post updates every so often as we continue working on independence since Alek doesn't have all the skills he needs to master it all on his own yet. Things like removing his own pants/underwear and dressing himself, wiping, and washing his hands - his mastering these elements will be key to his on-going success as he passes through the next stages of toddlerhood.
This was a big month for us as we finally gave up diapers for good! It wasn't always perfect, but it also wasn't potty training. (Spoiler alert: It was way better and more fun!!)
5 1/2 years ago when my daughter was 17 1/2 months old, I decided to stop using diapers. We used a non-coercive potty training method, and it took a couple of weeks. 5 days for her to make any progress at all, and another week or so of practice and a couple of big embarrassing public accidents (but I know better now... or do I?). Potty training wasn't awful, but it was difficult. And scary too, I can remember being totally freaked out about her going diaper-free at nap time. Not to mention leaving the house.
With my son we started EC months earlier than we did with my daughter, and I was a lot more consistent with it. Overall, it went much smoother and I am much better at giving him MORE independence as the months go on, even if we were still having a lot of misses, I always worked on giving him the opportunity to do it himself and reduced my use of diapers at home more and more for the last few months.
It went down like this... April 1st we took our first outing without a diaper back-up. Alek was wearing a cloth training pant (like padded underwear) with a Tiny Ups waterproof shell over, just in case. From that point I tried to use diapers less and less on outings, but would always reach for the Tiny Ups or Wool Pants over padded undies, just in case of a public accident, or one in his car seat. May 2nd we had our first accident-free day - well for pees anyway, since poop misses were a daily, if not twice daily incident! The day after that, I was feeling very brave and we travelled 30 minutes outside of the city to a farm for a family homesteading workshop. As usual, Alek fell asleep on the way there, and when we arrived he was groggy so I did not put him on the potty right away. It was also freezing cold when we arrived, so I started bundling everyone up, only to realize that he was still not wearing a diaper. By the time I tried to potty him, he was already wet and I perceived that in that cold there was just no way to continue with training pants that day. Pulling out a disposable diaper at that moment was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
After a very cold morning outside, we went indoors for lunch. I took him to the bathroom where he peed, and then we sat down to eat. At some point during the meal, Alek pooped but my friend and I who were sitting with him the entire time saw no sign of it and, despite being surrounded by people (or maybe because of it) he did not signal in any way. After we ate, I smelled something in his pants and took him to the bathroom. But what I found was THE MOST EPIC POOP EVER. I had not seen a poop of that size or consistency since he was much younger. It was very, very close to exploding up the back and out the leg cuffs. All I could think of was, thank goodness I switched to a diaper!!! Can you even imagine a poop like that in underwear?!?!
It is possible that he has a mild illness that day because honestly, that poop. But also, I have noticed that he almost never poops when we are out-and-about so it was very surprising. Overall though, he was rarely singling for pee or poop and yet, we were getting fewer and fewer accidents each day overall.
Mother's day weekend, my sister invited us out to her in-laws cabin in the woods. Since things were going well, I decided to make it a diaper-free weekend, but used wool pants and the Tiny Ups just in case. The only diapers used all weekend were 1) At night-time and 2) On the 1.5 hr. car rides. I was thankful for the car diapers because on both the trip there and back, Alek slept most of the time but woke, upset, with about 20 minutes to go before reaching our destination. Big pees in his diaper both times! The weekend was a huge success otherwise, I don't think there was an accident during the day otherwise. Yeah!!!
About a week before Alek turned 17 months, I realized that we had stopped using diapers at all (daytime). I was still using a waterproof/resistant back-up most of the time, but started relying on those less and less also. In addition, Alek started staying consistently dry in his diapers all night. Wet pants would still happen most days, but pretty much always at home, when I am more distracted. Things are getting better and better and I am excited to share out update next month!
Interested in learning more about EC and early-start potty training? Check-out these great books which are available in my shop.
Hi! I'm Danielle, your friendly neighbourhood potty specialist.